Coke County, Texas

Pioneer: JOE FIELD, Citizen

Contributed by Jo Collier

April 6, 2006

The Robert Lee Observer, Robert Lee, Coke County, TX, April 20, 1961

By Jessie Newton Yarbrough

A citizen in our midst who takes his citizenship seriously is Mr. JOE FIELD, who came to Coke County with his parents almost 72 years ago. Today, at 79, he has missed only one vote since he became 21.

Last November, Mr. Joe told an election official, "This will probably be my last chance to vote." But he was wrong. Although his candidate did not win (he supported a "Middle-of-the-Roader") he was happy to have the privilege of voting in the Special Senate Election of April 4.

"Mr. Joe" (sometimes "Uncle Joe"), as he is affectionately referred to by neighbors and friends, believes that citizenship is a great privilege, but he believes that one who fails in his allegiance to his country does not deserve its protection.

Historically, a citizen means a free man, and Joe Field believes that if we, as free men, are to remain free, we must be concerned about the affiars of state. He believes that the lethargic indifference of the citizens of Texas and our nation concerning their right to vote - their negligence in exercising their rights and privileges at the ballot box -is a bad sign and forbodes trouble for the United States, our great and wonderful country-"the best country in the whole world."

A life-long Democrat, Mr. Field cast his first vote in July following his 21st birthday in March. From that time till now, he missed only one opportunity to vote - and his voting record includes local elections such as those for school trustee, et cetera.

Joe Field's first presidential ballot was cast for "The Great Commoner", William Jennings Bryan in 1896. In all his voting record, he crossed party lines only once. He said, "I voted for Dwight Eisenhower, but I am sorry that I did, for Adlai Stevenson has proved himself. I just did not know Stevenson at the time." He added, "I believe that William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson are perhaps the two smartest men our country has produced. I think President Kennedy demonstrated good judgment and lack of prejudice when he appointed Adlai Stevenson as Ambassador to the United Nations."

Mr. Field, a life-long Methodist, also said, "I believe the church and politics should be kept separate. I try to keep them separate. I never voted for or against a man because of his church affiliation. It does not matter to me which church a candidate belongs to. I never let that influence my vote.

JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON (Joe) FIELD was born at Harper's Mill in Erath County on March 5, 1872. He is one of ten children born to GREEN COTTON FIELD and ELIZABETH THORNTON FIELD. Only Mr. Joe and GREEN CARROLL FIELD, the youngest of ten, survive. Carroll, a retired oil well driller of Wichita Falls, is 77.

Green Cotton Field brought his family to Coke County less than three months after the county was organized. (Coke County was created by an act of the Legislature on March 13, 1889, and was organized on April 23, 1889.)

Arriving in the county on July 6, 1889, the Field family ate dinner at the site of the old bridge on the Colorado south of Robert Lee - about one-fourth mile above or west of the present bridge site. They went on to Hayrick, the County Seat, to see about land. Mr. Field leased some R.R. land at Hayrick, and the family resided there until after the removal of the County Seat.

During his residence at Hayrick, Joe Field worked for one month in a livery stable owned by a Mr. Bennett, who also owned a store. During that time, there was a big storm at Hayrick. They storm blew nearly all of the houses, including the Court House and the Henderson Hotel, off their blocks. It blew the fronts off Bennett's store and livery stable, which were about 40 yards apart, and young Joe was put on duty to watch until repairs could be made.

Mr. Field vividly remembers those pioneer days. He remembers when thieves stuffed carcasses of cattle (stolen for their hides) in the public well, making the water unfit for use. He said, "Things were pretty tough in those days. Perhaps the pioneers' greatest blessing was the coming of the law." (Rangers?). "When representataives of the law arrived, law and order were established and crime was lessened."

Green Cotton Field was a local Methodist preacher or Elder and did missionary work, serving the Methodist congregation at Hayrick. After the county seat was moved to Robert Lee, he served the Methodist congregation in Robert Lee as a missionary from January, 1891, to November 1891-the first to pastor the Robert Lee Methodist Church. Reared by this pioneer Methodist missionary, Joe Field has some very definite ideas concerning moral standards. He said, "I hate a liar, and I believe a liar will also steal." Mr. Joe Field has lived in Coke County continuously since 1889, except for about six years. During that time, he operated a general merchandise store at Grosvenor, about 20 miles from Coleman - near the Blackwell Crossing on Jim Ned river. He said, "I quit the mercantile business after I wore out my feet." He operated his 400-acre stock farm after returning to Coke.

Joe Field and Miss Eva McCauley, whom he met while working for a time at Charlie, Texas, on Red River, were married in Fort Worth on Dec. 9, 1907. They were the parents of one daughter, Larue, now Mrs. Finis Harmon. Mrs. Field succumbed to an attack of double pnuemonia on Feb. 24, 1920, during an epidemic of influenza.

Mr. Field was married to Mrs. Virginia Hodges on Dec. 22, 1925. They have resided in Robert Lee the last few years since Mr. Field became unable to work following a light stroke.

Mr. and Mrs. Finis Harmon operate the 400-acre ranch which Mr. Field still owns.

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